It’s a bit of a scorcher today – and the weather frankly couldn’t be better for a bank holiday weekend.
Although I did go walking yesterday, in the end I stopped at only eight miles and really couldn’t be bothered to walk any further. I think it’s because I’ve walked most of the local routes to death.
I needed something different.
I awoke therefore this morning not planning to waste a moment of the day – and immediately started looking for a new Warwickshire walk on the internet.
My friend’s used http://www.walkingbritain.co.uk quite a lot when she’s suggested places to explore, and so far they haven’t been bad at all – so I decided to try a new circular one from the same place.
I’ve no companion today (cue violins and sad music 😢) so if I was going to be intrepid and get well and truly lost then I’d have to make sure I took emergency rations.
So, after making a flask of emergency coffee and grabbing some emergency chewing gum I set off to do this walk. My starting point was at the Bridge Inn on the A425.
After a short drive out of Leamington (I was unable to find this pub on my satnav) I finally noticed it as I drove past. It was completely hidden amongst the brambles on the side of the road.
This was the first clue that the walk I was about to embark upon may have been devised some time ago…
I left my car in the spookily empty car park (containing only old beer kegs and tarmac) and headed off into a nearby field.
The sky today looked absolutely awesome.
It’s been completely cloud free all day long – and whilst this would have meant crispy Davey in the past, for some reason these days my skin is infinitely more resilient. Nevertheless I’d liberally added suncream just in case. Most of the walk would be relatively flat but some would be up on hills as well.
Immediately I felt that I’d made the right choice looking for new territory. Upon reaching the top of the first field I was greeted with nothing but total silence (and photobombing cows).
I don’t think they’re used to seeing people in Hawaiian shirts at 9am on a Sunday…
I was close to Napton on the Hill, and about half a mile of gentle undulating grassy hillocks later I was near a country lane heading down toward the village.
Here was the first of many indicators that this walk wasn’t written yesterday. I came across the first of lots of padlocked and chained gates. There has been little choice today but to get climbing – which thankfully I’m now capable of doing.
Half a year ago this might have been a deal breaker. I’d probably have had to turn around and go home.
Not today though!
When I arrived in it the village was both pretty and sleepy. There was barely a soul around.
Here the instructions for the walk appeared to be a little misleading – but with the help of Google Maps I found my way to the next step of the walk – which was a public bridleway.
To be fair the village has a LOT of new houses so it’s hardly surprising that things aren’t quite the same.
I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the local land owners don’t like walkers. Each gatepost I found with a marker for the trail around this part of the walk had the direction indicator smashed off.
All that remained were slivers of plastic.
Thankfully I have a compass and OS Maps (thanks to a kind cartophile friend) on my phone – because without them the signs that remain leave a lot to chance.
All the time as I was walking the guide kept suggesting that I’d catch glimpses of the Napton Windmill – but try as I might I couldn’t see a thing.
These kinds of landmarks are usually really hard to miss – but it was nowhere to be seen.
However it didn’t really matter. The fields were lovely and green, full of flowers and butterflies, and the hedgerows covered in warm, ripe blackberries to snack on as I walked.
I carried on – noting as I exited the last of four fields that around here the farmers appeared to be both armed and dangerous.
On the bright side though this was when I first started spotting Speckled Wood butterflies – of which there seem to be LOADS today.
So far I’d taken no wrong turns of any real consequence – but shortly after I turned off this country lane I misread the directions and started walking the wrong way down the Oxford canal.
It wasn’t until I realised I was going up locks that I noticed my mistake and headed back in the opposite direction.
I don’t think I’ve ever walked along the Oxford canal – but this little stretch is really pretty – and quite busy. Here the local pub was thriving – and although it was closed I popped over to take a few pictures as it was really well kept. There was a marquee set up in the grounds, and it looked like tonight there was a big celebration planned.
It struck me as a really lovely place (and day) to have a wedding reception. There was plenty of open space and the weather would be perfect for it today.
As I continued further along the canal the towpath slowly narrowed until there wasn’t much at all. I’d joined at bridge number 115, almost walked to 116, and had to make my way back to 111 – which was where my car was parked.
I trundled happily along, sipping my emergency coffee and taking photographs.
Is there anything better than strolling along a canal in complete peace and quiet?
Well, yes as it happens. It gets a bit better when you finally catch sight (faaaar in the distance) of the mythical windmill that you’ve been hunting in vain for two and a half hours!
After stopping to capture a shot or two (yay for 30x optical zoom!) I moved on.
The hedgerows along this canal are wonderful. Apart from all the birds there are blackberries all over the place, and even apples in a few places hanging down from above. Nestling in the bushes are all manner of little butterflies, dragonflies (camera shy ones sadly) and huge spiders.
If you’re interested in looking then there’s never a dull moment.
Then – almost exactly five miles after I’d started I turned the corner and saw bridge 111. There was a little gate and steps up to the rather sorry looking pub car park – and my (thankfully not stolen or vandalised) chariot of desire (or ‘elderly Passat’ to the less romantic members of my readership).
Weight loss is a fickle mistress however and I never trust her intentions. Despite this being a good start to the day it was barely 12pm – and there was plenty more time to fit more activity in.
So – after going shopping at Aldi (and meeting a SW target member from another group who has lost tons of weight and looks amazing) I decided to walk into Leamington Spa for a coffee the long way and take the even longer way back.
As I type (currently) I’m sitting in Old Milverton by St James the Great and watching the farmer on his combine harvester.
(author walks home)
Well. I’ve redressed the balance. Apple Watch says 13.26 miles walked today, meaning that I’ve caught up from yesterday and have already have a little wiggle room on my 10 mile a day average.
Next I’m going to make a MOOHASSIVE chilli con carne and veg out in front of the TV whilst I fart myself to sleep.
But what to do tomorrow internet?…..